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The Bubonic plague pits of old London town

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Post  eddie on Fri Jun 17, 2011 8:20 am

Slightly disturbing London Tube map:

The Bubonic plague pits of old London town - Page 2 5158786156_164d477d8f

"Slightly Disturbing Tube Map". The map shows where Tube lines have cut through plague pits, former slums and cholera sites, and also where all the ghosts and that hang out. For good measure, it also shows where all the abandoned stations are, and also all the stations that were destroyed and such during the war.
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Post  eddie on Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:31 pm

Evidence that Aldgate Tube station, at which I work, is haunted (by the unquiet spirits of Bubonic plague victims?) continues to mount.

My friend and colleague George records a number of strange coincidences, far more than any statistical average would indicate.

But here's my own most recent instance of unaccountable synchronicity:

It's the morning Peak and I'm being given a hard time by the usual City oik because a couple of trains have been cancelled:

- Why does that describer board say 'Good Service' when it's obviously not?

- Because the information on that board arrives on a feed from the Network Control Centre. It's largely fictitious, and bears only a tentative relationship to reality.

- You're trying to fob me off.

-No, I'm not. If you want 'fobbing off', I suggest you contact Customer Services (I hand the oik a card). They'll be able to 'fob you off' far more effectively than I can. What I'm telling you is the Truth.

-What's your name?

(I spell out my name emphatically, leave the City oik to his own devices and turn to my colleagues Paul and Darren.)

- I've just had another Basil Fawlty moment. (I relate the exchange above).

- Well, you told him the Truth. The information on the describer board is bullshit. It's described as a 'Good Service' to conserve some Manager's bonus.

- Of course. The man was quite obviously a cunt. Just after his pound of flesh. Waiting for the prole to grovel. Well, fuck him.

- Er...maybe you shouldn't be saying 'cunt' quite so loud?

- Why not? If it was good enough for Chaucer, it's good enough for me.

- The Canterbury Tales man?

- A local lad. Worked as Comptroller of the King's Excise at Aldgate. My use of the word 'CUNT' simply upholds centuries of tradition.

(At this point Darren, a Group Reserve staff member, is called back to Liverpool Street station where a minute later he receives a text from his wife on the Wikipedia definition of "Cunt'.)

How strange is THAT?

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Post  eddie on Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:11 am

Brush with the Black Death: how artists painted through the plague

From 1347 to the late 17th century, Europe was stalked by the Black Death, yet art not only survived, it flourished. So why are modern Europeans so afraid of epidemics?

Jonathan Jones
The Guardian

The Bubonic plague pits of old London town - Page 2 Van-Dycks-Saint-Rosalie-i-007
Van Dyck's Saint Rosalie Interceding for the Plague-Stricken of Palermo, 1624 (detail) is on display at Van Dyck in Sicily: Painting and the Plague at Dulwich Picture Gallery. Photograph: The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource/Scala, Florence

The age when European art rose to glory was an age of disease and death. In 1347 the Black Death – probably bubonic plague – was brought by a Genoese ship to Sicily. In the next few years, it is estimated to have killed about a third of the entire population of Europe. Some cities, such as Venice, lost more like 60% of their people.

The Renaissance was just getting started, and the plague, too, was at the beginning of its reign of terror. The Black Death was more than a medieval explosion of horror: it kept coming back. For the next 300 years and longer, plague became a regular part of life – and death – in Europe. Terrible outbreaks periodically devastated cities. One of the very last, and most terrifying, of these plagues hit London in 1665 and is described in chilling detail in one of the first historical novels, Daniel Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year.

Another catastrophic attack of plague massacred the people of Palermo in Sicily in the 1620s, and this outbreak is chronicled in a new exhibition, Van Dyck in Sicily: Painting and the Plague, 1624-5, at Dulwich Picture Gallery. Van Dyck, the gifted Flemish painter, had been working in Genoa, where brilliant works by him survive. But when he moved on to Palermo he soon found himself surrounded by death and panic. The exhibition shows his art in this eerie light.

It is a fascinating perspective, yet it is just the tip of an iceberg, for if you think about it, the entire story of the Renaissance and baroque periods in art is sealed inside the kingdom of the plague. Pestilence had all of Europe in its grip from 1347 to the late 17th century, with outbreaks in southern Europe recurring in the 1700s. This means the lives of all the "Old Masters" were experienced in its shadow: Michelangelo, Rembrandt and the rest all faced the danger that mortal contagion could at any moment seize their city.

Some great artists, probably including Hans Holbein and Titian, died of it. Others tried to fight it with art, like Tintoretto – who painted his greatest works in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco in Venice, a building dedicated to a plague-protective saint.

Yet the strangest thing, today, is this.

The art of these centuries abounds in images of death, sure, yet it is also full of joy. The Europeans of the 1500s and 1600s created incredible treasures and beacons of civilisation. Far from being driven to despair by pestilence, it is as if they were spurred to assert the glory of life.

In the 21st century, nameless terrors grip us. We fear epidemics that never come. We imagine that if a natural catastrophe hit our society, the result would be total collapse. Yet history is actually full of optimistic messages. People have endured disasters that modern Europeans can barely comprehend, and come out not just fighting but winning – just look at St Paul's cathedral, a hopeful dome that rose from a city blighted by the 1665 plague, and the Great Fire soon afterwards that necessitated Wren's rebuilding.

Human beings have a shocking resilience. They also have the power to rise above self-pity. If that does not seem obvious today, just consider St Paul's, serene in the London sky, a message to us from an age of everyday heroism.
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Post  eddie on Thu Feb 16, 2012 3:12 pm

Art after death: Van Dyck's Painting and the Plague – in pictures

In 1624, Anthony van Dyck moved from Genoa to Palermo in Sicily. Soon after his arrival, the city was struck by a plague which killed most of the population. Van Dyck in Sicily: Painting and the Plague, 1624-25 focuses on the artist's work during this period. At Dulwich Picture Gallery, London until 27 May 2012

guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 15 February 2012 17.34 GMT
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Post  eddie on Thu Feb 16, 2012 3:13 pm

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Sir Anthony van Dyck, Saint Rosalie Interceding for the Plague-Stricken of Palermo, 1624. Photograph: The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource/Scala, Florence
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